Who is Banksy

Banksy Identity

There have been numerous rumours and theories as to Banksy's identity. Names often suggested include Robert Banks and Robin Gunningham.

In 2004, an alleged photograph of him in Jamaica at the Two-Culture Clash Project surfaced. In October 2007, a story on the BBC website featured a photo allegedly taken by a passer-by in Bethnal Green, London, purporting to show Banksy at work with an assistant, scaffolding and a truck. The story confirms that Tower Hamlets Council in London has decided to treat all Banksy works as vandalism and remove them. Through the pictures, Banksy's identity was speculated to be Robin Gunningham, a man born in Bristol on 28 July 1973. Gunningham was educated at Bristol Cathedral School, and, according to a former friend, was "extremely talented at art." Gunningham lived with artist Luke Egan. Around 2000, when Banksy moved from Bristol to London, Gunningham is known to have moved from Bristol to a London flat in Hackney, and a number of Banksy's most famous works appeared nearby. At that time, Gunningham lived with Jamie Eastman, who worked for a record label that used illustrations by Banksy.

In May 2009, the Mail on Sunday once again speculated about Gunningham being Banksy after a "self-portrait" of a rat holding a sign with the face of the man on the 2004 photo shot on it was photographed in East London. This "new Banksy rat" story was also picked up by The Times and the Evening Standard.

In response to reports that Banksy was Robin Gunningham, Banksy's agent refused to either confirm or deny the reports.

In May 2007, an extensive article written by Lauren Collins of The New Yorker re-opened the Banksy-identity speculation citing the 2004 photograph of the artist that was taken in Jamaica during the Two-Culture Clash project and later published in the Evening Standard in 2004.

Simon Hattenstone from the Guardian is one of the very few people to have interviewed him face to face. Hattenstone describes him as "a cross of Jimmy Nail and British rapper Mike Skinner" and "a 28 year old male who showed up wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a silver tooth, silver chain, and one silver earring." In the same interview, Banksy claimed that his parents think he is a painter and decorator.

Banksy himself states on his website:

"I am unable to comment on who may or may not be Banksy, but anyone described as being 'good at drawing' doesn't sound like Banksy to me."

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